8 things you need to know about BREEAM

photo of SIG engineers on a commissioning project in New York City

What is BREEAM?

First things first, BREEAM stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. Simply put, BREEAM is a protocol and process for researching building design and construction to ensure that it meets environmental standards.

Who started BREEAM?

The Building Research Establishment, a private organization based in the United Kingdom, created the BREEAM beginning in 1988, with the first widespread usage of the standards in 1990. At the time the BRE was a British governmental entity, but shortly thereafter became a private organization dedicated largely to promulgation of these standards.

Who uses BREEAM?

These standards have gotten the most usage in Europe, but are worldwide in scope. From 1990 to the present, more than half a million new and refurbished building projects have been analyzed using the standards encapsulated by the BRE, spread across more than seventy countries worldwide, totaling more than a staggering 2.2 million individual buildings.

Is it a single standard?

More than anything, BREEAM is a philosophy of designing energy-efficient, long-lasting, sustainable architecture, and aiding architects, engineers, and contractors in the process of meeting these goals all while staying within budget and on time. As a result, there are multiple standards contained within the single umbrella, from New Construction, which addresses projects before the first shovel of dirt is moved, to In-Use or Refurbishment, both of which are designed to address existing buildings. The standards even include Communities, which is meant to help city planners and the architects designing large planned communities to get the most efficient and healthful use out of a project.

What does a BREEAM analysis entail?

A BREEAM evaluator considers all phases of the project, from procurement and design to construction and ongoing operation of a development. These phases are weighed against a series of performance benchmarks tailored for specific regions, climates, and build codes, and the development is finally rated and certified on a scale of Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent, and Outstanding.

Does it provide room to innovate?

Absolutely! The fundamental goal is to drive innovation in building techniques and design. By allowing variations from the standards based on climate and region, the architects, engineers, and contractors can meet the needs of clients all while complying with these benchmarks.

What value does it provide?

Just like LEED and other standards, ensuring that a new or refurbished project complies with the standards will provide dramatic cost savings in the long term with energy-efficient hardware and systems. Research has shown that while incorporation of the BREEAM standards into a project can cost around two percent more up front, these costs are recovered by reduced utility and energy bills within two to five years of building operation. Furthermore, your project will play a role in creating a sustainable future for the whole community.

BREEAM-USA is located in San Francisco and is a partnership between BRE Group, a world leading multi-disciplinary building science centre and BuildingWise, a LEED certification consultancy. BREEAM-USA is growing their Existing Building (EB) program which is different than the LEED Existing Building program (EBOM). Learn about the recent and first BREEAM USA certification in the case study for The Oaks Mall which is located in Thousand Oaks, CA.

Who can I turn to when I want to incorporate these standards into my project?

We’re glad you asked! Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) offers three main services: LEED Exam Prep Training, Engineering Services, and LEED consulting. With the LEED standards in the United States very similar to the BREEAM standards that originated in the UK, Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) is excited to assist you with incorporating both of these standards into your next project, or training you to understand the requirements. We are willing to travel internationally for work and have taught classes as far as Hawaii. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you incorporate green, sustainable, energy-efficient building standards into your next project.